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Things that go boom in the night

Posted by: , Posted on: - Categories: Afghanistan, Humanitarian

The themes of my week have been interrupted dinners and the frequent donning of body armour.

Why?  On Saturday night, there was an attempted attack on Lashkar Gah - the first since the Taleban arrived here in the 1990s.  The best guess is that around 200 insurgents launched an assault from a few points around the city, aiming at several key targets.  The Afghan security forces, with some support from the coalition troops, repelled the attacks impressively, with no loss of life for civilians, Afghan forces or internationals.  The estimate is that around 60 insurgents died.

In body armour and helmet by my pod
In body armour and helmet by my pod

Was it scary?  Hell, yeah.  Not in the slightest for my civilian colleagues who've previously worked in Baghdad or Basra, but for me it certainly was.  Though we are a mile or so from downtown Lashkar Gah, the distance from where I lay nervously in my bed between 1am and 3am to where the explosions and fire fights were taking place was impossible for me to assess.  My mind began feverishly imagining insurgents stealing through the night to lay explosives in an attempt to breach the walls of our base, and a knock on my pod door from a rookie squaddie in search of the Commander (I'm still not sure what made him think he might be in my room...) did nothing to calm my quivering nerves.  I'm not too proud to admit I snuggled up in my helmet and flak jacket for a while, and kept the light on low for the rest of the night.

And now?  By the next day, armed solely with a better picture of what had actually been going on and where, I had settled back into the routine.  It turned out the base wasn't the target, and we are incredibly well protected by our military and civilian intelligence and security.  There have been a few smaller follow-up skirmishes - always, it seems, when I'm trying to eat my dinner - but nothing like the events of Saturday night.  It's business as usual for the civilians, though our body armour stays close to hand.

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